Tag Archives: abu elias

THROWN TOGETHER, EATEN UP

Buying a few clutch pre-made dishes, dressing them up in a more personal way, and preparing a few other easy side dishes might be one of the easiest ways ever to throw an impromptu dinner party. Everyone’s happy and everything’s delicious.

Earlier that morning, we took our friends out to Abu Elias and did a little grocery shopping of our own. Of course, I couldn’t resist their excellent hummus, or a pound of their excellent beef tartare, which is massaged with bulghur wheat, cumin, sumac, and other spices. But we also ordered a huge carton of fatteh (but then buttered and toasted our own pita chips to ensure crispiness late into the night), and a delicious lahmajoun.

I cracked open a jar of tiny pickled carrots that I made earlier in the week, and we readied a platter of radishes, waiting to be sliced in half and spread with butter. Adam prepped a small plate of celery sticks and taramosalata (a killer combo). We made a huge tomato, olive, and pepper salad, and a quick tabbouleh. I even whipped up (perhaps incongruously) a warm potato salad, with crispy pan-fried potatoes, tender green beans, bacon, scallions, and a rich mustard-crème fraîche vinaigrette.

But my favorite dish of the evening was derived from a recipe that I’ve had an eye on for months — a simple beetroot salad dressed with pistachios, lemon juice, and mint, from the indispensible Moro East cookbook. We picked up a bundle of gorgeous chiogga beets from the market, and roasted them in foil until tender. The Clarks like to thinly slice their beets and dress them with a chunky vinaigrette that includes minced pistachios, orange blossom water, mint, parsley, lemon zest and lemon juice. It was outstanding — light and floral but full of flavor.

ORGANS FOR EASTER

Easter Sunday supper

Richard Olney’s caul-wrapped lamb heart, liver and kidney brochettes, strung onto rosemary branches // Spring vegetable pilaf with Swiss chard ribs, new carrots, fresh peas, scallions, mint, and parsley

Red leaf lettuce and roasted red beets dressed with minted-lemon vinaigrette // Tomato, red onion, parsley and mint salad // Cardoons poached in lemon water

Grilled endives, scallions, and tomatoes // Grilled toasts, rubbed with tomato and cloves of garlic

Lulu’s Walnut Gâteaux

The sunny Easter morning began with potent coffee and S-shaped cookies in Little Italy, followed by a gluttonous feast of dim sum, and then a predictably rad shopping excursion to our favorite butcher shop in Montreal, Abu Elias. Because we don’t make it over there that frequently, we always stock up on staples like hummus, pita, whole roast chickens, soujouk.

But because it was Easter Sunday, Abu Elias had a few special items lounging around. Knowing our deep love of offal, the butcher mysteriously gestured to a pile of organs that they kept out of the display case. As he dangled them in the air for us to inspect — an attached system of the heart, kidneys, liver, and bloodied lungs from a baby lamb that was freshly slaughtered for the day’s Easter celebrations — I knew we couldn’t turn it down. For about $12, it was a bargain.

Then came the awesome task of wondering just what we were going to do with it all. Adam, knowing that I desperately wanted to fire up our grill, immediately remembered an Richard Olney recipe that called for lamb liver and heart, diced into small bits, wrapped up in translucent caul, and strung onto skewers of rosemary. It’s a classic Provencal dish, meant to be eaten with Domaine Tempier Bandol and a fluffy spring vegetable pilaf. It was the perfect idea.

But I was more reluctant to embrace the lungs, which honestly freaked me out. A moment of validation came when, after a bit of research, we realized that the lungs aren’t really meant to be eaten. They’re basically dog food. I felt apprehensive about the extensive cleaning the bloodied lungs required, and couldn’t imagine how I could possibly grill them. (In a particularly grotesque moment, we imagined the lungs filling with air and ballooning up on the grill to gigantic proportions, eventually exploding in our faces and splattering the walls with tiny lung bits). So we threw them in a bowl, poked at the narrow esophagus for good measure, and decided to skip them. (But if anyone has a good lamb lung recipe, I would love to see it!)

With the concept firmly in place, we rang up a few friends, and held an impromptu Easter celebration. As the early spring breezes licked at the flames and in the final seconds of grilling the lamb, we threw handfuls of fresh sage and rosemary leaves directly onto the glowing coals. Fragrant, intoxicating smoke billowed around the skewers. It was a moment of indisputable magic.

Because the flavor of lamb offal can be quite strong, it can handle equally pungent herbs and wines. We marinated the liver and heart in mint, scallions, lemons, olive oil, parsley, diced red onion and raw garlic, and drank powerful Mourvèdre all night. It’s worth noting that the caul — which added much-needed fat, juiciness, and a porky counterpoint to the tiny morsels of lamb offal — is an essential ingredient. I also made sure to serve plenty of vegetables to offset the richness of the meal, and it was our first truly springlike meal, charred with flavor and bursting with life.

Our lovely set of organs.

Though we decided to nix the lungs.

Defrosted caul, ready to wrap stuff.